EDITO - Breeding
If England is the reference point for the English thoroughbred breed, it’s also a reflection of the fact that the racing programme in that country was shaped by the top breeders: the very founders of the breed. The race which carries the most kudos to their way of thinking is the Epsom Derby (Gr1). This classic isn’t in the same monetary league as other top international events, and it doesn’t draw the crowds in the manner of Royal Ascot or the Cheltenham Festival. However, for an Englishman, it remains the focal point. Success in the Blue Riband is the equivalent of a Frenchman coveting victory in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Gr1). However, the racing sector has seen a lot of changes during the course of the last decades, and only two of the last ten years Derby winners were in fact bred by an Englishman: Golden Horn and Australia. As the remainder were bred outside Great Britain, and the Irish example of Coolmore in this sense springs to mind. Feeling the force of foreign powers in racing, as experienced by the British breeders, also equates to the French experience in the Purebred Arabian racing sector. Nevertheless, as in the English thoroughbred example, certain breeders have proved that it is possible to win the Gr1 PA prizes in France. In the wake of his win in the Qatar Arabian Trophy des Poulains (Gr1 PA), Amyr du Soleil (Amer) proved that he is a champion in the making. He was bred in France at the Haras du Saubouas by a Franco-British couple, Lisa and Pierre Deymonaz. The Frenchman Bruno Bellaud is also the breeder of the excellent Lady Princess (General). The filly’s supremacy was reflected by her win in the Qatar Arabian Trophy des Pouliches (Gr1 PA).
If gaining a foothold at the top end of the sport continues to prove increasingly difficult, the example of the above two horses show that it remains possible. In the space of a decade, the market place has become far more selective. Indicative of this is the slump in the demand for PA two-year-olds sold at public auction. At the Saint-Cloud October sales, thirty-four juvenile lots were sold for an average of € 31,860. This figure on the surface can appear to be on the low side. However, the average covering fees of the PA sires of the two-year-olds in question is € 3,661, which is 8.7 times lower. A sale of an English thoroughbred yearling is considered positive if it’s selling price in the ring is three times that of the covering fee of the colt or filly in question’s sire.
The breeding of PA Arabians isn’t the equivalent of a martingale mechanism, but despite the obvious difficulties, it remains sustainable. In the past the PA French breeders were able to save the breed by creating AFAC (Association Française du Cheval Arabe de Course). There’s no doubt that, in the years ahead, they will be able to come up with the required solutions, with particular regard to the racing calendar, and ones designed to boost the French market and thereby ensuring sustainability.
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